(CHICAGO) — The municipal war of words in Chicago over the dismissal of felony charges against actor Jussie Smollett for faking a racially charged attack on himself heated up again on Saturday morning when the city’s top police official took aim again at the Cook County State Attorney’s Office.
In a statement, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson reiterated that lead prosecutors on the Smollett case were present during interrogations in the case and “stood firmly behind this investigation and the evidence — approved the charges not only at the point of felony approval, but again when they made their independent decision to take the evidence to an independent criminal grand jury to secure an additional 16 felony counts.”
“As the State’s Attorney said clearly, Mr. Smollett was not exonerated,” Johnson concluded. “I stand behind the professionalism of the detectives who worked on this case as well as the conclusions of the independent grand jury.”
Johnson and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel both have repeatedly blasted the decision to drop the charges as politically — not prosecutorially — motivated.
Spokespersons for Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx’s office did not immediately respond to a call for comment from ABC News.
Saturday morning’s police statement followed an opinion column written by Foxx and published in the Chicago Tribune on Friday.
In the column, Foxx contended for the first time publicly that the case against Smollett was not necessarily as strong as it had been portrayed — though prosecutors in her office cited a wealth of evidence at the actor’s bond hearing last month, including surveillance footage, witness interviews, and phone and bank records.
“For a variety of reasons, including public statements made about the evidence in this case, my office believed the likelihood of securing a conviction was not certain,” Foxx wrote without elaborating.
Yet on Wednesday, Foxx said the opposite — that she believed her prosecutors could have proved Smollett guilty in court.
She contended in Friday’s column that the charges were dropped for three reasons: Prosecutors weren’t sure they could win a conviction at trial; the crimes Smollett were charged with are low-level felonies, similar to pulling a fire alarm at school or burning a draft card; and because — she said — her office is chiefly focused on violent crime.
Foxx has been under extraordinary scrutiny in the past week for her office’s decision to drop the charges.
On Friday, city attorneys issued the actor a bill for $130,000 for the cost of police overtime associated with the investigation.
If Smollett fails to pay, according to the letter, the city “may prosecute you for making a false statement to the city.”
“The City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department take seriously those who make false statements to the police, thereby diverting resources from other investigations and undermining the criminal justice system,” according to the letter, which was sent by the office of the city’s corporation counsel, Ed Siskel.
Meanwhile, Smollett did not make an appearance on Friday night at a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards ceremony in which he was nominated for — but ultimately did not win — an award for his role on the hit TV show Empire.
21st Century Fox — which produces Empire — is now a part of Disney, ABC News’ parent company.
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